Source: Sherman Publications

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A black bear for the records

by David Fleet

September 22, 2010

David Rheaume with his black bear.
Ninety minutes.

That's how much time Groveland Township resident David Rheaume waited for assistance after shooting what may be one of the top five black bears ever taken in Michigan.

While his anticipation to claim the trophy was difficult, it later proved to be the right move.

On Sept. 10, the first day of the firearm bear season —Rheaume, an Oakland County deputy from the Brandon substation, was hunting over an active bait pile from a ground blind in a remote area northeast of the Porcupine Mountains near the town of Ontonagon. He, along with six other hunters, were camping in the area during the early season hunt. He entered the blind at about noon and had seen a sow bear and cubs come to the bait earlier in the day—then at about 6 p.m., the quiet September day changed very quickly.

"It looked like a big black Volkswagen going through the woods," said Rheaume of the bear. "It's amazing such a big animal can move through the woods so quietly. I could see his nose poking out of the brush—he was about 75 yards when I shot. He seemed to just roll over and just lay there—I thought, 'Did that really happen?'"

Rheaume called the property owner and guide who was at his son's high school football game in nearby Ontonagon.

"I sat there 90 minutes—that's 90 long, long minutes waiting for the guide to get there," he said. "So we both started walking up on the bear and that's when he jumped up on his hind legs about 10 yards from us and come forward. The guide shot four rounds from his 40 caliber pistol in the bear's chest —and the animal seemed to say, 'Is that all you got?' and kept coming toward us."

Rheaume shot the bear again with his 7 mm rifle, finally killing the animal.

"We took the bear back to camp and hung it on a scale that only went to 400 pounds—it was maxed out. So we found a scale in Ontonagon that could register more weight—it went 501 pounds field dressed."

Rheaume said the bear's skull is measured to determine how it compares with other Michigan black bears.

The biggest bear taken in Michigan on record with a gun is a black bear from Montmorency County taken by Sharon Agren. The bear's skull was 23-0/16ths.